Keto and Low Carb Success

Inflammation and Grains

February 16, 2023 Season 2 Episode 37
Keto and Low Carb Success
Inflammation and Grains
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 37: Inflammation and Grains

The consumption of grains is linked to inflammation in your body.  Everyone lives on a continuum of sensitivity so decide for yourself how much to limit your grain consumption based on the information that I give you in this episode. You can do more reading on the topic with the many links I have provided below.

1:43.      Personal Story
4:36.      What is Inflammation?
5:19.      Acute Inflammation
6:06.      Chronic Inflammation
7:03.      Inflammation and grains connection
8:45       What are grains?
9:25.      Whole grains vs. refined grains (and phytochemicals)
13:00.    What are lectins and phytic acid?
14:49.    General gut health
16:18.    What is leaky gut?
17:49.     Grainflammation
18:19.     The other side of the story
19:21.     Carbohydrates in grains, rice and legumes
21:03.     The bottom line
22:32.     This week's actionable coaching advice
25:38.     Just remember
26:30.     Episode 38, coming up next week


Book: Breaking Free From Diet Prison
Course: Keto and Low Carb Success
Free 35 -page Keto and Low Carb Success Planner
My Blog on the connection between sugar, insulin and fat storage

Amy Berger: Alzheimer’s Antidote available on Amazon 

Inflammation and Alzheimer's disease

Columbia University Study

Armin Aledini

Global Journal Article

P. Osborne (Grainflammation)

Food Pyramid

 Phytic Acid

Erin Michos

Dennis Thompson

Cooking websites:

Mexican: Dominican and Latino:

Get all my free guides
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Episode #37 Inflammation and Grains

You’re listening to the Keto and Low Carb Success podcast, Episode #37. Inflammation and Grains.


Enjoy Keto and Low Carb success by becoming aware of what foods work best in your body and why. Master your mindset to make the journey an easy one. Learn all this, and more, with this podcast based on my trademarked Granny Keto Transitions Program. Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Conquer Cravings with Keto, as I give you actionable coaching advice with each episode that is sure to empower you and take any confusion out of following a Keto or Low Carb diet. It’s like being a private coaching client while you listen at your convenience!

But before we start, I wanted to offer my free gift to you for just for taking a peek at my course, Roadmap to Keto and Low Carb Success. No obligation – just take a peek! At the bottom of the page you will find a spot to put in your name and email address and like magic, my 35-page Keto and Low Carb Planner will appear in your in-box! The feedback on this Planner has been fabulous and it is yours free for just taking a look over at The direct link will be in the show notes and transcript.

And now to the episode, Inflammation and Grains. 

1:43     Personal Story:

I have high inflammation in my body. There are several blood tests to determine this, but believe me, you know if it’s a problem. Sometimes this comes out as arthritis. The doctor once said to me that my middle name should have been arthritis – it is all through my back, hands, feet and every joint. I have had two knee replacements, a hip replacement, and I just got back from the doctor and was told I need a shoulder replacement. OY VEY! 

It has plagued me in other ways. I had cataract surgery in the summer of 2021 and believe it or not, in 2023 I keep steroid eye drops at the ready because of inflammation flare-ups that I never had before the surgery. In the midst of this eye issue, I asked if there was any scientific evidence that removing gluten and sugar – the worst culprits of inflammation – would help my eyes and the answer was no, but it couldn’t hurt.

All this is to say that when I stray from Keto and Low Carb with too many carbohydrate indulgences I pay the price the next day – and usually for a few days with pain in my joints – until everything is out of my system, if you get my drift.

Did you know that Alzheimer’s Disease is now referred to as type 3 diabetes? The NIH has published a study (just one among many) that states: Inflammation clearly occurs in pathologically vulnerable regions of the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain. Animal models and clinical studies, although still in their infancy, strongly suggest that AD inflammation significantly contributes to AD pathogenesis…it should be possible to develop anti-inflammatory approaches that may not cure AD but will likely help slow the progression or delay the onset of this devastating disorder. 

That alone – arthritis aside – is enough to keep me mostly away from grains and sugar. The connection between grains, sugar and inflammation is what this episode is all about.

4:36    What is inflammation?

Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli such as 

  •  pathogens
  • damaged cells, and 
  • irritants 

It is a protective response involving 

  • immune cells
  •  blood vessels, and 
  • molecular mediators such as histamine 

The function of inflammation is to 

  •  eliminate the initial cause of cell injury 
  • clear out tissues that have been damaged from the original "insult", and 
  • initiate tissue repair

There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic.

5:19     Acute Inflammation

When an injury occurs, the cells of our immune system immediately travel to the site of injury or irritation and the inflammatory response begins. 

This includes widening of local blood vessels. 
This allows fluid and immune cells into surrounding injured tissues.

This causes

  •  swelling
  •  redness
  •  warmth, and 
  • pain at the site. 

We can see this acute inflammation at work, or sometimes it is out of our sight, such as when 

  • bones are healing or
  •  there has been internal damage from surgery. 

We want this inflammation because it is healing in nature.

6:06    But our concern is Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation in the body is another animal and we do not want this type. This is the body's inflammatory response - from stress to the food we eat. It can eventually start to damage 

  •  healthy cells
  •  tissues, and 
  • organs

Over time, this can lead to DNA damage, tissue death and internal scarring. 

Dr. Erin Michos from Johns Hopkins says, "... sustained low levels of inflammation irritate your blood vessels. Inflammation may promote the growth of plaques, loosen plaque in your arteries and trigger blood clots — the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes. We all should be making an effort to reduce chronic inflammation in our bodies." 

7:03    What is the inflammation and grains connection?

Modern life may actually be the main driver of gut inflammation. 

  • There is emerging evidence that the Standard American Diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar and unhealthy fats, may initiate this process. 
  • In any case, staying away from an overabundance of grains and processed foods will help heal and maintain a healthy gut.

It is not my intention to demonize any particular food group. 

My goal is to report on some of the information available to us so that we can make informed decisions in order to make changes in our eating style or to not make changes, or to spur us on to do further research to see what the most current information is. 

Current is the operative word here. More and more research shows that grains, rice and legumes are at the root of inflammatory conditions such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular diseases, skin conditions, autoimmune diseases and more.

Not every person will find this to be so, and more likely there is a spectrum of tolerance for grains either because of the person's general health or genetics. You have to make your own decisions. One size does not fit all, but it's important for you to have this side of the story.

8:45    What are Grains?

  • A grain is a small, hard, dry seed with or without an attached hull or fruit layer.
  •  It is harvested for human or animal consumption. 
  • Grains are members of the grass family and can be thin leaf or broad leaf.
  • Plants from the broadleaf family are called pseudo grains or pseudo cereals and are often safe for consumption even if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. 
  • Corn is a grain, not a vegetable. 
  • Rice and legumes are also under the grain umbrella. 

9:25    Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains 

Cereal grains are whole or refined. 

Whole grains are grains that have been minimally processed to still contain the bran, germ and endosperm, the three parts of a grain. 

  • The bran is the outer shell that provides a rich source of fiber, trace minerals, phytochemicals and B vitamins. 
  • The germ nourishes the grain and is packed with antioxidants, the B vitamins and vitamin E. It is also a source of heart healthy unsaturated fats.
  • When grains are refined to make white flour, the germ and bran portions are removed, leaving only the endosperm. This process also removes the most nutrient-dense portions of the grain.

Just an aside here if you have never heard the term phytochemical: Phytochemicals are compounds in plants. (Phyto means “plant” in Greek.) These substances are found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. They give plants their color, flavor and aroma. It’s thought that there are thousands of different phytochemicals, and scientists are just starting to discover the different roles these substances may play. However, we’re learning that in addition to the roles they play in plants, they may also have health benefits for us when we eat them!

People consuming a diet high in phytochemicals have been shown to have significantly lower rates of certain types of cancers and heart disease. Although currently there is no conclusive evidence that any one specific phytochemical is guaranteed to reduce cancer risk or help eliminate cancer if you have it, promising evidence indicates that phytochemicals may have the potential to:

  • Aid the function of the immune system
  • Protect cells and DNA from damage that may lead to cancer
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Slow the growth rate of some cancer cells
  • Help regulate hormones

Now back to grains: Refined grains come from the same plant as the whole grain but 

  • they are missing the germ, bran and all the nutrients that go along with them 
  • they have a longer shelf life than whole grains because the oily germ — which is removed when the grain is refined — tends to become rancid when exposed to light and heat. 

When purchasing any bread or cereal product be aware of this from Dennis Thompson:

Terms like 'multigrain,' 'contains whole grains,' 'honey wheat' and '12-grain' can be used to hawk breads, cereals and crackers as healthier options even if the product mostly contains refined flour. If they say it contains whole grains, it really does have to contain some whole grains. They would get into trouble if they made a claim that was outright false. But it's totally permitted to say it contains whole grains even if it's mostly refined grains."

Now a couple of other terms that might be new to you:

13:00  What Are Lectins and Phytic Acid?


  • Lectins are a protein in some plants and animal foods that bind to carbohydrates. 
  • They are given a bad rap because on the face of them, they are toxic and some are even lethal (like the ricin in the castor oil plant). 
  • However, cooking at high temperatures will destroy the lectins, making the foods safe to consume. 
  • An example of this is kidney beans, which contain a poisonous lectin, and when the beans are not cooked properly will cause severe stomach distress. 
  • Soaking legumes first, then boiling them at high temperatures will mitigate this poisonous lectin fallout, making them safe to eat. 
  • Some research shows that foods from the grain family might still cause gut problems no matter how they are prepared. 
  • That being said, most of these lectin-containing foods are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and numerous beneficial compounds.

14:14   Phytic Acid

  • Phytic acid is a natural substance found in grains and legumes. 
  • It impairs the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium and may promote mineral deficiencies and is often referred to as an anti-nutrient. 
  • Soaking, sprouting and fermenting foods with high phytic acid will mitigate its effect, but there may still be a tie to gut health. 

Both lectins and phytic acid contribute to leaky gut and poor gut health. 

14:49  General Gut Health

 A study  from Columbia University Medical Center found that some people develop a systemic immune reaction and intestinal cell damage after eating wheat, even though tests have established that they do not have celiac disease. 

It is estimated that this condition may be more prevalent than celiac disease. Lead researcher Armin Aledini, Ph.D. has been quoted as saying that the study did not confirm that gluten was the cause of this immune reaction and intestinal cell damage.

I mention this study because while even the most conventional of doctors will not argue with celiac disease which can be tested and measured, there is still controversy over general gut health issues such as leaky gut. There is a lot of truth in what Hippocrates said which was, "All disease begins in the gut."

A very interesting article from Global Journal of Digestive Diseases carries the discussion further: "Despite the fact that Hippocrates was mistaken in proposing that all malady starts in your gut, proof shows that numerous constant metabolic ailments do. Your gut microbes and the uprightness of your gut lining firmly influence your wellbeing."

16:18   What is Leaky Gut?

Inside our bellies we have an extensive intestinal lining covering more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When working properly, it forms a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream.

An unhealthy gut lining may have large cracks or holes, allowing partially digested foods, toxins, and parasites to penetrate the tissues beneath it. This may trigger inflammation and changes to the gut flora (which are normal bacteria) that could lead to problems within the digestive tracts and beyond.

Increased intestinal permeability plays a role in certain gastrointestinal conditions such as

  •  celiac disease
  •  Crohn's disease, and
  •  irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The biggest question is whether or not a leaky gut may cause problems elsewhere in the body.

Some studies show that a leaky gut may be associated with autoimmune diseases such as

  •  lupus
  •  type 1 diabetes
  •  multiple sclerosis, and
  •  problems not classified as autoimmune such as
  •  chronic fatigue syndrome
  • fibromyalgia
  • arthritis
  • allergies
  • acne, and
  • obesity 

17:49  Grainflammation

Dr. Peter Osborne has coined the term "Grainflammation" which is perfect for this topic. In that article he talks about vitamin and mineral deficiencies, altered intestinal bacteria, leaky gut and gastrointestinal damage and mechanisms of gluten-induced damage, even without celiac disease.

18:19   A word about the other side of the story

  • In reading about grains being good for us, a lot of the research behind that viewpoint is funded totally, or in part, by
    • cereal companies 
    • animal activist groups
    • religious groups, and 
    • strong agricultural and farming lobbies. 

That does not mean that the results of that research are falsely presented. It does mean that the research is highly biased. Furthermore, these groups that are represented in government have powerful and deep pockets to move a lot of these findings into policies. 

The food pyramid was pushed through by lobbyists and politicians, not doctors and scientists. Calories had to be maximized for both cost and density and the answer to that was carbohydrates — mostly heavily refined into breads and cereals. 

19:21    Carbohydrates in Grains, Rice and Legumes

If you take all this research out of the picture along with any controversy that comes along with it, you would still do well to eliminate or limit your consumption of grains, legumes and rice to reduce, or eliminate, chronic inflammation in the body.

The sheer carbohydrate content of these foods will keep you in diet prison because you will have to be weighing, measuring and tracking your portions to make sure you remain within your daily allowance of carbohydrates (or calories).

  • One cup of rice contains 45 grams of carbohydrates.
  • One medium ear of corn contains 22 carbohydrates.
  • One cup of cereal, like (original) Cheerios, contains 20 carbohydrates.
  • One cup of cooked kidney beans contains 41 carbohydrates. 

If you are following a Keto plan, even if you are generously counting net carbs and not total carbs, even one of these foods will bring you over your daily allowance. 

If you are following a low carbohydrate plan you have a little more leeway, and if you are careful with portions and have something from a grain, legume or rice list no more than once a day you might be good to go, but you will have to be careful about everything else you may be eating that day. 

21:03   The Bottom Line

Grains, rice and legumes should be limited for better health

Yes, limiting or eliminating them will put out the fires of inflammation and go a long way in healing your gut.

But as you can see from some of the carb counts of these foods, just cutting down will help you get out of diet prison and help you to get some footing with intuitive eating where the amount glucose produced by these foods does not constantly bathe your system to trigger cravings and urges to eat. (In the show notes and transcript for this episode I put a link to my blog where I talk about the connections between sugar intake, insulin and hunger.)

Furthermore eating Keto or Low Carb is sustainable because you do not have to markedly change your family meals. 

If you come from a grain-heavy culture, there are some great websites for you to get started to find ways to cook for your family with the flavors and foods to which they are accustomed. 

Unless you are strictly limiting your carbohydrate intake for Keto, you may add your familiar "starches," but as a side dish, not as the whole show. In my course, The Roadmap to Keto and Low Carb Success, I will guide you to cooking for the family in this way. 

22:32  This week’s Actionable Coaching Advice

Your first action is to download my FREE 35-page Keto and Low Carb Planner available at (and there will be a direct link in the show notes and transcript). One of my most favorite pages that I specifically would like you to work with is one that is entitled: “Keto/Low Carb Food List.” One column is “Food I am choosing not to have” and the second column next to it is “Food I can replace it with.” It is page 27.

The first reason I love this is because it addresses deprivation head on. Remember, for your health, you are making these food choices. The second reason I love this page is that my clients, when they start Keto or Low Carb, tend to look at problems and not solutions. They see it as a problem that they are not having bread for sandwiches. A problem? Not so! Use the second column to list things such as home-made Keto and Low Carb bread, Low Carb wraps, or my favorites for Keto, the cheese wraps and egg wraps now available at most grocery store. Don’t forget using lettuce for rollups. 

Your second assignment is to look at the websites that I have in the show notes and transcript. These will get you started on learning to branch out into grain and starch-heavy cultural recipes without the grains and starch. Again, remember, solutions my friends, not problems!

If you are a cookbook person, Amazon and your library are filled with Keto and Low Carb cookbooks of all cultures. Also look at Paleo cookbooks which tend also to have Low Carb recipes because they do not rely on grains. Just one caveat about Low Carb cookbooks: Because the range of your carbohydrate consumption can be a large one, before you purchase any Low Carb cookbook, make sure its carbohydrate count per meal portion is 50 carbohydrates or less, and that there is a little wiggle room with your own variations (such as maybe leaving out potatoes or any pasta – those can always be added on the side). 

25:38  Just remember:

Do whatever you can to reduce chronic inflammation in the body. Do take the time to learn about the connection between inflammation and grains. Even if you do not cut out grains, rice and legumes, monitoring and limiting your intake will go a long way to better health.

I also want to mention here that  the studies I have spoken about in this episode are in the show notes and transcript for this episode.

By the way!! If you’ve ever got a question you’d like to ask me or share a topic idea that you would like me to cover on a future episode, don’t be a stranger! I always look forward to hearing from listeners like you. You are welcome to email me directly…

26:30  Coming up next week

Coming up in the next episode I will be talking about ways to stop your Yo-Yo dieting.

So go share the show with your friends, let them know that’s coming up in the next episode, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison with my Keto and Low Carb Success podcast.

Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.


Book: Breaking Free From Diet Prison
Course: Keto and Low Carb Success
Free 35-page Keto and Low Carb Success Planner
My Blog on the connection between sugar, insulin and fat storage

Amy Berger: Alzheimer’s Antidote available on Amazon 

Inflammation and Alzheimer's disease

Columbia University Study

Armin Aledini

Global Journal Article

P. Osborne (Grainflammation)

Food Pyramid

 Phytic Acid

Erin Michos

Dennis Thompson

Cooking websites:

Mexican: Dominican and Latino: Asian: Italian: